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IDENTIFICATION AND ANALYSIS OF DIRECTIVE ILLOCUTIONARY ACTS IN CNN HEADLINES.

Byline: Rabiah Rustam and Nadeem Haider Bukhari

Abstract

The present article aims to rxplore the functions of the directive illocutionaryacts in CNN headlines written about Pakistan. It also looks into the roles of the linguistic as well as the contextual elements in the ident~fication of the directive illocutionary acts. The research treats the headlines as speech acts that have encoded pragmatic meanings. Analysis of the data shows that the felicity conditions help to determine the directive illocutionary force of a speech act but rely heavily on the linguistic and contextual elements related with proposition. Although the existence of the linguistic expressions in the headlines helps to recognize the illocutionary force but the linguistic devices can not be considered as the sole determiners of illocutionary force as the context of situation also plays an important role in identifying the illocutionary forces.

Keywords: directive ~speech acts illocutionary acts CNN headlines language and context

1. Introduction

Current study attempts to identify and classify the directive speech acts in the news headlines of CNN (Cable News Network) that were written about Pakistan during 2010 and 2011. The study also discusses the contextual and linguistic practices associated with the identification of directive illocutionary acts.

Years 2010 and 2011 marked some of the most important events in the history of Pakistan. These events included floods suicide bombings casualties in drone attacks Parvez Musharraf (Former President of Pakistan) political comeback blasphemy law controversy American intelligence agent Raymond Davis's murder of three Pakistanis and arrest on the spot controversial killing of Osama Bin Laden by US marines and the blockade of the logistic support to the NATO forces in Afghanistan. CNN gave coverage to all these news stories. Pragmatic analysis of the headlines was selected as the most appropriate means of studying the role of CNN headlines.

In the light of the above mentioned purpose there are two important objectives of the study. First it aims to identify and classify the directive acts in CNN headlines. Second the study also looks into the identification of the illocutionary forces with the help of the linguistic devices and the contexts in which the headlines were written.

In relation to the above mentioned objectives following questions need to be answered:

i. What are the functions of directive illocutionary acts in CNN headlines

ii. How the linguistic devices help to mark the illocutionary acts

iii. What is the role of context of the headlines in identifying the directive illocutionary acts

2. Literature Review

Searle (1969 p.16) termed speech act as a basic or minimal unit of the linguistic communication. Searle (1969 pp. 16-19) also presented a taxonomy of illocutionary acts on the basis of the illocutionary point and the direction of fit. Illocutionary point is the purpose of a speech act that helps to define it while the direction of fit establishes its position with respect to the actual world. The taxonomy includes following speech acts:

i. Representatives or Assertives: These acts commit the speaker to the truth of an expressed proposition. The direction of fit of representatives is words to the world and the expressed psychological state is a belief. Examples include the acts of boast complain conclude and deduce.

ii. Directives: These acts are attempts by the speaker to get the hearer do something. The direction of fit is world to the words and the sincerity condition is want or desire. For example ask order command request and plead.

iii. Commissives: These acts commit the speaker to some future course of action. Direction of fit is world to the words and the sincerity condition is intention. For instance commitment and promise.

iv. Expressives: They express a psychological state about a state of affairs expressed in the propositional content. Direction of fit is not required. For example apologize condole deplore and welcome.

v. Declarations: These acts bring about alternation in the status or condition of the referred object by virtue of the fact that the declaration has successfully been performed. Successful performance guarantees that the propositional content corresponds to the world. For example declare appoint and fire.

The above mentioned taxonomy can be extended to multiple illocutionary forces or speech acts. According to the hypothesis of constructability presented by Searle and Vanderveken (1985 pp. 49-50) new illlocutionary forces can be formed out of the old ones by adding propositional content preparatory or sincerity conditions.

Searle (1969 pp.65-68) not only gave a taxonomy of speech acts but also gave a framework for the identification of speech acts. He emphasized the role of felicity conditions in identifying the speech acts. He gave four most important conditions given by Searle that play an important role in the identification of a speech act:

i. Propositional content conditions: These conditions help to find out whether the proposition given in a sentence is in present past or future.

ii. Preparatory conditions: These conditions are related with the intentions and knowledge of the speaker as well as the hearer. These conditions help to explain what a speaker implies during the performance of a speech act.

iii. Sincerity conditions: Sincerity conditions are concerned with the psychological state of the person making an utterance.

These conditions help to find the existing beliefs intentions and desires of a speaker during the performance of an act. iv. Essential conditions: Essential conditions help to determine or decide the type of a speech act especially illocutionary act.

Apart from the above mentioned felicity conditions Searle (1969 p. 30) also highlighted the term `Illocutionary Force Indicating Device (IFID)'. It is used for the realization and identification of Illocutionary forces associated with the illocutionary acts. He elaborated that IFIDs can be realized in numerous ways. Some of them include intonation contour punctuation word order stress mood of the verb and performative verbs. He also explained that by using an illocutionary force indicating device different illocutions having the same proposition can be identified.

Van Dijk and Kintcsh (1983 p. 84) emphasized the importance of context in the constitution of the speech acts and termed them social actions. They emphasized that certain acts such as promises threats and congratulations are social actions of the communicators. The speech act can only be successful if contextual conditions such as wants beliefs desires and intentions are satisfied. The social relationships between speakers and hearers such as status and familiarity also matter in the successful performance of a speech act.

Although the researches on the application of speech act theory to the analysis of the headlines are scarce some important contributions made by Munawaroh (2007) Muskananfula (2009) and Syrovy (2012) were considered helpful for the study of headlines.

Munawaroh (2007) investigated the types of illocutionary acts found in Kofi Annan's interview using a descriptive qualitative method. After analyzing speech acts in Kofi Annan's interview she subdivided Searle's main categories of illocutionary acts into following prototypes:

i. Representatives: Suggest conclude affirm complain and conclude

ii. Directives: Request advise recommend and suggest

iii. Commissive: Forecast iv. Expressives: Apologize and condole.

Muskananfula (2009) analyzed illocutionary acts in `Victory Speech' and `Inaugural Speech' of Barack Obama. She supported making sub classifications of the speech acts based on the taxonomy given by Searle (representatives commissives directives declaratives expressives). She argued that the prototypes of speech acts are tightly connected with Searle's taxonomy and can have diverse uses in the texts depending on the intention of the narrator.

Syrovy (2012 p.74) categorized speech acts according to their purposes in the news discourse. His classification included following categories:

i. Assertives: Informing confirmation correction and justification

ii. Expressives: Thanking praising sympathizing and condemnation

iii. Directives: Request suggestion inquiry and warning

All of the above mentioned researches classified the speech acts into different categories on the basis of the Searlean taxonomy. Although the speech acts have been classified into the prototypes in these researches but it is not possible to find out on which basis the speech acts have been identified. Current research will look into the study of the role of the factors such as linguistic devices felicity conditions and context in the identification of the speech acts.

3. Methodology

Qualitative method was used in order to analyze the illocutionary functions of the speech acts. Searle's speech act theory was adopted as a framework for analysis. Following steps were involved in the analysis of the headlines:

i.Selection of an online news source: An online news source was selected in order to collect the headlines with convenience. CNN website (www.cnn.com) was selected as it is one of the most popular news website accessed by millions of internet users every day.

ii. Collection and processing of the headlines: The headlines were collected by a method called crawling in which web pages are collected by skipping from one page to another. Unnecessary materials from the headlines were deleted and they were placed in a Microsoft office word file.

iii. Sampling: A sample of 200 headlines was selected randomly from a large number of headlines by using a random number generator.

iv. Classification according to Searlean criteria of illocutionary point and the direction of fit: The headlines were considered as propositions with forces and were classified according to the illocutionary point and the direction of fit. This method helped to classify headlines into representative expressive directive and directive speech acts. As the focus of the research was to analyze the directive illocutionary forces so only 14 headlines functioning as directive speech acts were put to further analysis. v. Classification and analysis of directive illocutionary forces: As the directive acts may have multiple illocutionary forces so the directive acts were put to further analysis according to the felicity conditions linguistic devices and context in order to identify the forces present in the directives. All the derived illocutionary forces were named as speech acts and the headlines coming under them were numbered.

4. Results and Analysis

The results presented below focus on the directive illocutionary acts derived as a result of the analysis according to Searle (1969) speech act theory.

4.1 Acts of Warning

This directive illocutionary act is about a bad state of affairs in the headlines that needs to be avoided. The detailed analysis is given below.

Table 1: Headlines Associated with the Act of Warning

Headlines###Propositional###Preparatory###Sincerity###Essential

(Speech acts)###Content###Condition###Condition###Condition

###Condition

Topic: Osama Bin Laden

Hi. Pakistan###A future###The writer###Given###Something bad is

###flooding is###event is###thinks that###information###likely to happen

###focus of second###likely to###the event###can be###and the reader

###purported Bin###happen.###likely to###useful for###must be warned.

###Laden message###happen is###the flood

###not in the###affected

###interest of###people.

###the reader.

H2. U.S. officials:###--do--###--do--###--do--###Something bad

###Bin Laden###can happen as a

###urging Al###result of the

###Qaeda affiliates###message given to

###to act###the affiliates.

H3. Purported Bin###--do--###--do--###--do--###There is a threat

###Laden message###linked with Bin

###urges support###Laden's message.

###for flood

###victims

Topic: Militancy and terrorism in Pakistan

H4. Pakistan kidna###--do--###The writer is###The###The reader should

###ppings###aware of the###minorities###be aware of

###highlight###consequences###must keep###imminent danger.

###dangers for###that are likely###themselves

###religious###to happen.###safe.

###minorities

H5. Pakistan:###Somethin###--do--###The unsafe###Pakistani nuclear

###Nuclear power###g wrong###nuclear###weapons are in

###in chaos###can###assets can be###danger.

###happen in###harmful to

###future###the people.

H6. Taliban###--do--###The writer###It is in the###Something bad is

###resurgence###knows###interest of###going to happen in

###feared in flood###much better###the people###the future.

###zones###about what###that they

###is likely to###must keep

###happen.###themselves

###safe from

###the Taliban.

Topic: US Pak relations

H7. Embassy###There is a###The writer###The###The Americans

###cautions###possibility###wants###Americans###are prone to

###Americans###of a###Americans###need to be###threats.

###in Pakistan###future###to avoid###cautious.

###event###what is not

###in their

###interest.

The headlines included in Table: 1 share general felicity conditions and address four major topics. The headlines coming under the topic indicated as "Osama Bin Laden" are about the imminent threats posed by Al Qaeda. During the disastrous flood of 2010 Osama Bin Laden was alive. If the felicity conditions are taken into account all of them indicate the possibility of a future event that can have negative impacts on the flood affected people. The intention of the headlines writer is to warn the people of the imminent threat. There are illocutionary force indicators in the headlines that help to find out that the headlines are acts of warning. For example in the following headline:

"Pakistan flooding is focus of second purported Bin Laden message "Linguistic elements in the form of pre and post modifiers such as "is focus of" and "purported" help to create a sense of doubt and uncertainty. Similarly in the second headline "U.S. officials: Bin Laden urging Al Qaeda affiliates to act" once again the linguistic strategies help to identify the illocutionary force of warning when combined with the context. First thing is that direct speech has been used giving reference to US officials. It becomes clear by reading the headline that the statement has been issued by some responsible source. Second the verb "urge" makes the statement more effective. Here the verb conveys the sense that Al Qaeda affiliates have been given a stronger message by their leader to accelerate their activities. Indirectly the headline writer wants to convey warning to the people who have been affected by flood. Similarly the last headline "Purported Bin Laden message urges support for flood victims" uses word

"purported" at the beginning of the proposition which helps to give a sense that the message is not clear and there is a hidden source behind the message being given. An attempt has been made to create fear among the readers of the headlines.

Second important topic is militancy and terrorism in Pakistan. Two kinds of information have been given. One is related with the kidnappings while the second one relates with the nuclear assets of Pakistan. The propositional content indicates the possibility of negative states of affairs while the preparatory sincerity and the essential conditions indicate possibility of harm that needs to be avoided.

Linguistic devices play a key role here as well. For example in the following headline give below:

"Pakistan kidnappings highlight dangers for religious minorities" The underlined verb "highlight" shows possibility of danger that must be avoided by the people.

In the following headline "Pakistan: Nuclear power in chaos" the underlined words used at the end of the headlines mark the possibility of danger. The context indicates that the nuclear weapons are too dangerous for the humanity and they need to be kept safe. The headline was written keeping in view the presence of militants in Pakistan. US authorities have always been afraid that if the atomic weapons are stolen by militants there can be a threat to humanity. The headline writer achieves this objective successfully by using the words "in chaos".

Another headline "Taliban resurgence feared in flood zones" highlights the re-emergence of Taliban forces in flood affected areas. As has already been mentioned above Osama Bin Laden had asked Al Qaeda to help the flood affected people. The headline has a close connection with what has already been conveyed. Even if Taliban help the flood affected people still they can create threat to people's lives according to the headline writer's point of view that is why the people need to stay safe. Linguistic element "feared" helps to convey a sense of doubt and possibility of a threat.

"Embassy cautions Americans in Pakistan"

This headline uses performative verb "caution" that is a very strong indicator of the illocutionary force. The headline has been written keeping in view the possible threats to the American citizens in Pakistan. The linguistic element used here strongly conveys a sense of caution or warning and as compared with the other headlines it is clearly identifiable.

4.2 Acts of DemandingThis directive act is associated with certain demands on the behalf of the authorities. Details are given below:

.1. ne neacinnes coming unaer tne act oi aemancung aaaress only two topics that include US Pak relations and Blasphemy. These headlines have been classified under a separate heading as they share the general felicity conditions among themselves but have some special conditions that are different from the acts of warning mentioned above. Different linguistic strategies have been used to make them acts of demanding.

The analysis is given below: "Kerry: Pakistan to return tail of chopper used in Bin Laden raid"

"Obama urges Pakistan to free jailed U.S. Embassy employee"

"U.S. presses for release of diplomat accused in Pakistan shooting"

The linguistic devices used in the first two headlines are of the same kind that include infinitives. They help to indicate futurity. If the context of the headlines is considered for the interpretation of the illocutionary forces then both the headlines were written in the context of US Pakistan relationship. Pakistan had taken the remaining part of the chopper that was destroyed during the attack on Osama Bin laden. American Senator John Kerry had demanded Pakistan to return the tail of the chopper so the headline is clearly a demand.

The second and third headlines are about Raymond Davis a CIA(Central Intelligence Agency) spy who was arrested by Pakistani police. Here he has been referred as US embassy employee. The underlined infinitive used in the headline conveys a directive sense and indicates futurity. Verbs "urge" and "press" enhance the effect of the illocutionary force and tries to convey a strong demand on the behalf of the US president Barack Obama to release Raymond Davis. Word "embassy employee" has been used to give the sense that the embassy employees are diplomatically immune to punishment and cannot be kept under trial for a long time.

Another strategy is the use of a very strong illocutionary force indicator. For example it is present in the second part of the following headline: "Don't pardon Christian woman Pakistan Muslim leaders demand". The verb "demand" and the contracted form "don't" enhance the effect of the illocutionary force of the act of demand.

Table 3: Headlines Associated with the Act of Forbidding

Headlines###Propositional Preparatory###Sincerity###Essential

(Speech acts)###Content###Condition###Condition###Condition

###Condition

Topic: US Pak relations

H12. Don't burn Qurans###The###The###This###The people

###U.S. embassy in###proposition###speaker###action is###carrying out an

###Pakistan urges###concerns the###has###not in###action must

###church###present state###reasons###the###stop

###of affairs.###that the###interest###themselves.

###current###of the

###action is###reader.

###not good.

4.3 Act of Forbidding

This act is concerned with stopping some bad state of affairs from happening. The details are as under:

There is oniy one headline coming under the act of forbidding. It does not share any felicity conditions with the previously mentioned headlines.

If the linguistic strategies are analyzed the contracted form of do has been used here which clearly makes it an act of forbidding. Moreover the verb "urge" used here enhances the effect of the illocutionary force. The headline has been written during the conflicting situation of 2011 when Holy Quran was being burnt by Christians in most parts of the world. In that context it can be termed as an act of forbidding.

4.4 Act of Requesting

Act of requesting concerns permission for an action that needs to be done.

Table 4: Headlines Associated With the Act of Requesting

Headlines###Propositional###Preparatory###Sincerity###Essential

(Speech acts)###Content###Condition###Condition###Condition

###Condition

Topic: US Pak relations

H13. Source: U.S.###The###The target###The###The actioo

###needs permission###propositio###has an###speaker###cannot be

###to interview Bin###n concerns###authority to###desires the###carried out

###Laden wives###present###allow certain###act to be###till Pakistan

###state of###act.###carried###allows it.

###affairs.###out.

The current headline is once again a different illocutionary act as it does not share felicity conditions with any of the already mentioned propositions. The headline was written after the killing of Osama Bin laden by the US forces. After the raid his wives were taken into custody by the Pakistani forces. US requested Pakistani authorities to let them interview his wives. The headline is a request to grant permission to interview. Verb "needs" and the noun "permission" helps to mark the headline as an act of request.

4.5 Act of Suggesting

The act of suggesting deals with suggestions given by any person about any problem.

The headline is different proposition just like other headlines grouped under different illocutionary acts. Although the linguistic elements such as infinitive such as "to move" help to mark futurity even then the headline is a bit difficult to interpret without taking context into consideration. The current headline was written in the context of the withdrawal of the American forces from Afghanistan Peter Bergen a US analyst had suggested their withdrawal.

5. Conclusion

The present study focused on three questions. First question was related with the functions of the headlines treated as propositions. All of the headlines functioned as directives having different illocutionary purposes that included warning demanding forbidding requesting and suggesting. These functions prove that headlines are propositions having pragmatically encoded meanings. Moreover all these illocutionary functions are harmonious with the existing situation faced by Pakistan during 2010 and 2011.

Second question was related with the roles of the linguistic devices. It was found that these devices such as verbs infinitives and pre and post modifiers can help to identify the kind of illocutionary force. It can not be said that the linguistic elements are the markers of illocutionary force as they are highly context dependent.

Third question focussed on the role of the context. The role of the context was found to be highly important. Sometimes the felicity conditions as well as the linguistic markers of the illocutionary force cannot be helpful in identifying a speech act till the context is taken into account.

References

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Dijk V. (1980). Pragmatic Macrostructures. In Macro structures an interdisciplinary study of global structures in discourse interaction and cognition. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers (pp. 175-196).

Munawaroh F. (2007). Iiocutionary acts used in Kofi Annan's interview. Unpublished doctoral dissertation The State Islamic University of Malang.

Muskananfula I. A. (2009). Anaiysis of illocutionary acts in `Victory Speech' and `Inaugural Speech' of Barack Obama. Unpublished doctoral dissertation Petra Christian University Surabaya.

Saeed I. J. (2003). Context and reference. In Semantics (pp. 181-217). Blackwell.

Searle J. R. (1969). Speech acts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Searle J. R. (1979). A classification of illocutionary acts. Language in Society 5(1) 1-23.

Searle J. R. and Vanderveken D. (1985). Foundations of illocutionary logic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Van Dijk T. A. and Kintsch W. (1983). Strategies of discourse comprehension. New York: Academic Press.

Vanderveken D. (1990). Meaning and Speech Acts (Vols I and II). Cambridge University Press.

Vanderveken D. (1990). On the logical form of elementary illocutionary acts. In Meaning and speech acts volume 1: Princztles of language use (pp. la-ib). Cambridge University Press.
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Publication:Kashmir Journal of Language Research
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jun 30, 2013
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